Andrew Knapp is a photographer and visual storyteller from Northern Ontario who’s worked on various artistic endeavors — from murals to festivals to collaborative projects. But over the past few years, his main collaborator has been his dog, Momo. Fueled by a passion for storytelling and exploration, the pair has traveled across the U.S. and Canada, creating two New York Times bestselling books and a children’s board book. Published in February 2019, their latest photography collection takes readers across 22 European countries and encourages vicarious travelers to spot Momo hiding in each beautiful city and landscape.
Despite the glamor of globetrotting for photography’s sake, traveling with a dog comes with its own set of challenges. For this reason, we sat down with Andrew to ask him about the realities of life as a traveling dog-owner, author, and photographer.
How did you first get into travel photography?
I studied graphic design in college but saw photography as an invaluable asset to the trade. Though it was just a hobby at the time, I felt an importance in practicing it. Telling stories through images was a lot easier for me than using words, and I’m glad I kept that hobby because, in the end, it turned into something.
Can you tell us a bit about Momo?
Momo is a 10-year-old Border Collie, and I’ve been traveling with him since he was a puppy. He’s well behaved, but he’s definitely taken up barking in his senior years. I got him when he was just a few months old, and immediately we were glued to each other.
Living in Northern Ontario, we spend our time hiking local trails, and occasionally getting booted out of coffee shops ― they’re usually no-dogs-allowed establishments. Then, later on, we started traveling south every winter to avoid the frigid Canadian weather. From there, we just kept going.
Your latest book, “Find Momo Across Europe,” is the fourth in your series of books with Momo. What inspired this concept of a hide-and-seek photography book?
Momo definitely inspired the concept. As I said, we’ve been traveling together for some time. At first, we would just walk around and explore, and I’d bring my camera along with us. Often times, this included him dropping a stick at my feet and then running off into the bushes and waiting for me to throw it. He typically “hid” behind something — rocks, stumps, whatever was the right size that he could crouch behind but still poke his head over. I started shooting this habit of his, and started asking him to “hide” behind things. He obliged and was, in fact, happy to do it — he was just playing, and I was just throwing a stick for him, but that practice eventually led to the photo books.
Were there any logistical challenges that came with traveling with Momo?
So many. I realized that any time you want to travel in a way that isn’t already written about, it’s going to pose a challenge. Logistically, there was a lot of paperwork involved in getting Momo to another country. There was also a lot of bureaucracy once I landed in a new place, and even more once I needed to buy a van, which was my primary mode of transportation once I was there.
In fact, through this experience, I found van-travel to be the best way to travel with a dog. It gives them a familiar space and means that you can carry enough food and water around at all times — and it helps with transportation, as you never know if the place you’re going to will allow dogs on public transit.
You’ve traveled a lot with Momo. Do you two have a favorite place?
I find myself missing Portugal a lot, and Barcelona, and Berlin. I’d also love to go back to the Balkans and spend more time heading East, and then venture to Mexico and maybe all the way down to Argentina. Portugal and Spain were very special for a few reasons: the people were inviting and friendly, and it was the first extended European experience we’d had. During that trip, we immersed ourselves in the country’s diverse culture and rich history as much as possible. After visiting, I felt as though there was so much to learn in such places that we’d need to spend at least a lifetime in each to fully appreciate them.
Do you have any tips for other travelers looking to take their dogs with them on their next adventure?
I recommend traveling by campervan, no matter where you are in the world (unless your dog is a certified service dog and you can bring them everywhere with you). Also, be sure to check the travel restrictions before you leave, and do your research. There are tons of useful resources online like pettravel.com, or you can go directly to the country’s official website — there’s always a section (though not always easy to find) about bringing animals with you. Your vet may be able to help you, too.
But overall, make sure you’re going somewhere that your dog can be comfortable. If you have a Husky or a Bernese, for example, you may not want to go to deserts. If you have a Chihuahua or a Greyhound, you probably won’t want to take them on a trip to the Arctic. And lastly, always have water, pre-plan your dog’s food, and make sure the stress of an airplane ride is worth the length of the trip. In my case, I wouldn’t have brought Momo to Europe if it had only been for a month.
Where are the most dog-friendly places you visited that you would recommend to other travelers?
Croatia was very dog-friendly — it just doesn’t seem to be a big deal there. But in general, most places in Europe are much friendlier toward dogs than places we’ve visited in North America. I think it’s a liability thing — in the U.S. and Canada, people are so afraid of getting sued or shut down, but overseas, people settle their disputes in different ways. A lot of the places we’ve visited leave it up to the restaurants to decide whether they want dogs inside or not, as each knows its clientele best.
Do you and Momo have any travels planned for the future?
I keep toying with the idea of the Pan-American Highway. I have some friends who have done the trip — it’s just so compelling. When I arrived in Europe, one of my first thoughts was, Why didn’t I do this sooner? I don’t want to end up asking the same thing about the Pan-American. But I have to consider Momo’s health, as well. As a senior dog, the traveling and the heat could be too hard on him, and I wouldn’t consider doing it without him while he’s around. There’s a lot to think about, but it’s definitely something I want to look into.
Anything else you’d like us to know about you or Momo?
He doesn’t care much about social media, but you can follow along with our adventures via letsfindmomo.com.
For more ideas on hitting the road with your favorite pup, check out our other articles on pet travel. Whether you’re looking for a dog-friendly guide to New York City or planning your dog’s first road trip, you’re bound to find something interesting!